Time for small businesses to join the mobile app revolution

Updated on 23 May 2014

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Time for small businesses to join the mobile app revolution

From its humble beginnings in 1973, when Motorola produced the first handheld mobile phone, to 2014 when the mobile phone is nothing short of a supercomputer, the use and related technologies of the mobile phone have multiplied greatly.

There are 15.5 million active smartphone users in South Africa, more than 30% of the population are increasingly reliant on their devices, with 78% globally not leaving home without theirs. So what does this mean for businesses?

Mobile is no longer an emerging channel – but an essential element of every digital marketing strategy, where businesses that don’t adopt the channel, will not be able to benefit from the opportunity to engage with the constantly connected consumer and would ultimately become irrelevant.

“81% of consumers perform searches on their smartphone after seeing an offline ad”

Mixing the old with the new

Mobile apps can form a critical component of traditional advertising, using location-based technology, to help consumers find the closest retail outlet of your product or service. This is one of the greatest tools to be leveraged, considering 81% of consumers perform searches on their smartphone after seeing an offline ad.

App notifications are a cost-effective and non-intrusive way to communicate with customers and a great advantage of mobile apps. They make business communication more pleasant and appealing to customers, as well as giving you an edge over your competitors.

If you can remind customers about specific events that relate to your relationship, automatically and subtly via in-app notifications, it can stimulate greater customer loyalty, as customers who use apps enjoy this form of communication.

Consumers have become used to app notifications from social network apps such as Linked In, Facebook and Twitter. The fact that certain business processes can be automated with notifications and that the customer opts in to look at the message in their own time when they log into the app is a critical success factor.

See Also: How to Protect your Mobile App Idea

Getting your content into consumers’ hands

For mobile marketing to be integrated effectively, businesses need a content marketing strategy. If you do not have the skills in-house, you need to select the right partner or digital agency that can offer solutions that maximise campaign effectiveness and engagement, via the most appropriate channels, and the right platform.

In my experience, navigating an unfamiliar space for the first time may be daunting for many business owners; this can be attributed to the simple fact that the targeting may not be seen as being as “sophisticated” as what marketers are used to in the traditional online marketing world. However, I encourage marketers to adapt to new technologies and approaches for reaching these customers, to achieve the best performance and ROI.

Looking ahead

In 2014, mobile advertising will become a $19 billion industry,  and businesses should look to direct between 25% – 50% of their marketing budgets towards it. Soon enough, it will no longer be considered “intangible” to think that mobile will surpass all other forms of advertising.

About the author: Yaron Assabi is the founder of the Digital Solutions Group and BroadBrand one of the leading innovators in the ICT and communications industry. Yaron is also a member of the Advisory Board at Mobile Marketing Association South Africa.

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